30 December 2009

Philosophy of Science

Here is a little snippet of something I posted on the Doctors.Net.UK forum, but I thought could do with a wider airing. Agree? Disagree?

The problem is that a lot of blowhards who set themselves up as "philosophers of science" have no clue as to what science actually is and how it operates. Many pursue a decidedly post-modern (PoMo) agenda, and one can't help but wonder if it is *jealousy* that drives them, rather than academic rigour. Others are trying to elbow in a little space for their private fantasies (often religion-based - science is rather hard on space pixies). There are of course some very good and honest philosophers of science, and scientists have a great deal to learn from philosophy. Many philosophers would do well to return the favour and pay attention to the science.

PZ has an interesting post on a related issue (as always).

Examples of serious facepalms by so-called "philosophers of science" include the devious but dopey "God's Undertaker" by John Lennox, Mary Midgley's spectacularly idiotic 1976 review of Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" and Jerry Fodor's amazingly confuddled "On Darwinism".

Medical students should indeed learn about the philosophy of science in order to combat such exuberant ignorance. The key skill is *critical thinking*, and I would heartily recommend "Straight and Crooked Thinking" by RH Thouless, now astonishingly out of print, but gettable second hand on ebay & elsewhere. It rocks in a really rocking way.

23 December 2009

We got there too late.

Sadly the patient was already deceased.

David, let it go. It's gone. You did your best. Look to the future. Move on, man!

Amazing what you find in the mountains...

We made it to the top of the pass that leads to Jerash. This poor old donkey didn't. Please take a moment to remember this once-proud little beast of burden, and the final journey that finished it off.

The great news is that thanks to your help, I've managed to raise over £3000 for the Nazareth Hospital! Good work, everyone. The little donkey did not die in vain.

There are more people who think like I do?!?

Tim Minchin tells it like it is. Behold the power of "Storm"!

20 December 2009

Behold the mighty Snow-Sphinx!

Religion is a funny thing. Over 5000 years ago, long before Yahweh was invented, the people of Egypt developed a sophisticated (and oft-misunderstood) religious system that lasted far longer than Christianity, yet vanished without a trace.
Yes, elements of Egyptian religion became incorporated into the new religion of Christianity (the Trinity is one example; much of the Gnosticism that ended up making its way into *mainstream* Christianity is also traceable to concepts directly related to the old Egyptian religion), but by and large it was forgotten.

At Christmas time, let's celebrate what came before. Let's raise a toast to the Egyptians, and make our snow-sphinxes (weather permitting) with pride.

03 December 2009

Forbidden fruit

Why is it, when someone tells you NOT to do something, you really really REALLY want to do it?

But on balance, some things are best left alone...

Keeping us on the road

Meet Luay, our indomitable Bicycle Repair Man for the Jordanian leg of our journey. Very fine chap. We were very sad to leave him at the border. Luay - if you read this, drop me an email - I lost your email address, and I need to ask you about some of the finer points of Arabic grammar...

28 November 2009

The meaning of life

Yep, this is it, folks. From the legendary Carl Sagan himself. This is what I want played at my funeral...

14 November 2009

Photos from the Jordan Valley bike ride 2009

Here's a link to some of the photos from the ride. I'll try to smarten this up a bit as time goes on, to give some context.

Jen & Jim made it!

Congratulations to our oldest and youngest members - Grandfather & Granddaughter Jen & Jim. Here they are in Nazareth, with Elia, the head of our welcoming party.

11 November 2009

08 November 2009

The true horror of that Day 2 event...

Here's the map:

There's also a direct link to the GPS (which will hopefully remain available for a while). Thanks, GPSVISUALIZER.COM!

OK, Tango and Cash...

See if you can top THAT! The GPS is a bit inaccurate on this; it cut out before we reached our destination, and we lost a bit at the start. Total distance ~110km. See that climb between ~66 and 92km on the graph? That's 1325m, from the floor of the Jordan Valley to the pass leading to Jerash.

Now, Tango and Cash think that they're tough chappies - anything like that on the Trans-Alp, lads? ;-)

Needless to say, we were pleased to see our hotel in the end...

06 November 2009

Arrival in Nazareth

It has been gruelling. At times it has been scary. Always it has been exhilaratng. And now we have arrived! Nazareth has changed since I was here, but much remains the same. More later. Bike has gone back to Jerusalem. Just legs from now on.

We got a fantastic welcome from the School of Nursing and the staff of the hospital - plus the local Nazareth Scouts Brass Band. Thanks folks!

WiFi outage

Dearie me - lack of posts due to diffs scoring hotspots.
Update on journey so far - after detaching mule, we skidded down to the dead sea. Next day, a MURDEROUS cycle to Jerash. 110km, the last 30 of which climbed from -400 to +1200m in 30km. Only 6 of made it.

Today, on to Nazareth!

02 November 2009

and to prove it...

here's a mule stuck to my chest...

...or me stuck to a mule's bum. Whichever...

Hi from Jordan!

Isn't a free wifi hotspot a brilliant thing? Here I am, by the shores of the Dead Sea, and I can post on my blog! Yippee!

Well, we Nazareth cyclists put in a good, if brief, day's cycling from Madaba to the Dead Sea. There are 18 of us, ranging in age from 16 to 71. Wide range, and I hope we all make it. The Jordanian people are of course lovely, and we're being very well looked after.

Took a dip in the Dead Sea - very choppy today, utterly filthy, of course, in a (hopefully) sterile kind of way. The scenery on the way down was amazing, but very poor visibility due to high winds and dust in the air.

Tomorrow is another matter - a long day ahead to Jerash. Thanks for the sponsorship - http://justgiving.com/shanemckee

31 October 2009

Blimey, that was quick!

Off to Jordan in the morning. I hope the training has been sufficient! Looking back, I meant to blog a lot more about the Nazareth experience, but maybe I'll save that for the autobiography... ;-)

Look, if you HAVEN'T sponsored me already, think of the good that will come of you visiting http://justgiving.com/shanemckee and leaving some cash - it will help in the training of nurses from the poorer regions of the Galilee, helping to build community cohesion, self-worth, inter-community dialogue, and REAL progress in the Middle East.

Worth it? You betcha.

See you in a week...

25 October 2009

Portmucked... AGAIN!

You'd have thought that I would have learned from last time, but no, I decided to give the circuit of Islandmagee another go. Actually, it's a beautiful part of the world, and in many way's a cyclist's dream, but when the rain is lashing down and it's blowing a force 6, you come away with different thoughts...

Well, 40 miles later, the old legs have held out very well, I think this is my last significant ride before the Jordan Valley Challenge (sponsor me please if you haven't already!), so the countdown really is underway...

16 October 2009

Palmaris software: WardFive, Client_L

Back in my youth, I used to program Psion handheld computers. I still think the form factor of the Psion 5mx would be PERFECT for a Linux-based netbook, but since there are a few Psion users still out there using WardFive / Client_L, here is a generic registration code so that you can enjoy the full features of the software for FREE:

Generic registration key for Client_L:
User name: Psion User
Code: 8v1hr1459j

Client_L / WardFive is a patient manager for busy hospital doctors (or a client manager for anyone else), employing a unique intuitive spatial layout that helps YOU remember your patients in your HEAD - suddenly you can use that redundant piece of wetware on your shoulders. I'll maybe post more about it some other time, but if you have a Psion 5mx, please feel free to download it, play with it, and watch it insidiously change and enhance your life...

I'm not able to support this software any more, but I'm happy to share the source code (EPOC, I'm afraid).

04 October 2009

Tour of the Ballies

Lovely morning this morning. I keep telling folks, if you're going to come to Northern Ireland, come in September. Well, it's October, and the day took a wee while to warm up, but boy did we have a great day today! About 18C, sunshine, a bit breezy, but most of the leaves still on the trees, and hedges full of blackberries. Oh yeah!
So, a quick jaunt up to Woodburn (that sounds like nothing, but we are talking some serious hills here) - where IS everybody?! Usually the car park is full of bikers on a nice Sunday morning, ready to tackle the forest park, but not today. What's up? Swine flu? Ebola virus? Purple heebie-jeebies?
So stuff that - I headed up the hill to Straid, then off to Ballynure, Ballyclare, Ballylinney, Ballyearl, and then home. Sweet. How many Ballies is that? I could have piled in another couple - next time I'll get Ballyeaston, Ballyrobert and Ballypalady crammed in. In Jordan & Israel, I'll see how many Beits I can do.
Once I got home, I could have gone out and done it all again.
So, Jordan Valley, bring it on, baby!
[Anyone not yet sponsored me? Well, go and visit my sponsorship page!]

03 October 2009

Amazing, the places you find...

Came across this old ruined school on one of my recent training runs, just before my camera completely packed in. It's up near Beltoy, on the road from Carrick to Glenoe. I wonder who went there; what they went on to do? Now it's just sheep. Don't want to be one of those.

See, you just don't find these places when you're in the car.

[Oh pants - it's rotated! I'll fix that later...]

So who's going to cycle with me?

Here's one - Carol White has a training blog, and it's a cracker! I'm hoping Carol doesn't mind me posting a pic of her - now, *if* anyone is reading my blog, I would like you to go over and read Carol's blog too.

We've a lot of ground to cover when we're in Jordan and Israel, so I'm looking forward to meeting the other riders, and if I come across any links to any of the others, I'll post 'em here.

Now, folks, don't forget the sponsorship page! http://justgiving.com/shanemckee

[PS. Carol's bike looks a lot better than my old boneshaker! Maybe once I get back I'll see if Santa will let me upgrade...]

02 October 2009

Any last requests?

I'm not sure what music I want played at my funeral, but it might be something by the King of Pop.

After Jacko's untimely demise, I bought the Mrs his Greatest Hits album, which we now hate because the kids demand that it be played non-stop.

The other day, my five year-old asked me to play the CD.

"Oh all right, Son," quoth I, "If you insist. What song do you want?"

"You guess it, Daddy."

"Give me a clue."

"OK, Daddy, it begins with F."

"What do you mean it begins with F? There ARE no Michael Jackson songs on this album that begin with F!"

"Yes there is one! It begins with F!"

"Fine, I give up. Which one is it?"


01 October 2009

Yellow T-shirts - I haz them!

Great! The yellow T-shirts for this Nazareth bike ride have arrived, together with a list of the 18 riders who will make up the contingent for the 400km ride from Amman in Jordan up to Nazareth. So watch out folks - I'll be making contact! Time is running short (head off 1 Nov).

Anyone who is tickled by the idea of a Humanist cycling from a Muslim country to a Jewish country in aid of a Christian hospital - please sponsor me :-) Thanks for the support, and spread the news - otherwise there'll be more pictures of me in Lycra, and I don't think anyone wants that now, do they?

27 September 2009

Capernaum capers

One Saturday, Christiane & Margit (two of the overseas nurses) and I headed to Lake Tiberias, to Dalmanutha, close to Capernaum. Very peaceful, just by the lake. There was a church there, at Tabgha, supposedly built on the site of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Some beautiful ancient mosaics inside.

We spent some time sitting by the shore and watching the lizards scuttle back and forward across the path – some of them were quite large, much larger than the geckos which seemed very common.

Well, we had a great day, and I abandoned the girls to do some exploring of my own. Eventually I had to get back to Nazareth. Basically I just started walking in the hope that I could hitch a ride along the way. Because of the heat, I figured that a pair of hiking sandals would do the trick, but the pair that I had picked up in the Nazareth Suq soon started creating serious problems. Not one of my better purchases. At a reasonable pace, however, I set out vaguely in the direction of Nazareth.

Before too long, a van containing a bunch of Israeli students stopped and let me climb into the back. They were heading from the coast after some swimming, so I bounced around in the back among their gear. They dropped me off at a crossroads – Nazareth was on the left, and they were heading to Afulah. Unfortunately, Nazareth was still several miles away, and quite a walk in the hot sun. After walking for a couple of miles, and hitching with the standard thumb sign, I wondered why no-one stopped, even though they were driving by with otherwise empty cars. I found out later that the hitch-hiker's thumb gesture is considered rather rude in the vicinity.

Eventually, as my water supplies were dwindling (and I can't have been much more than a couple of miles from Nazareth), a sherrut taxi with containing three middle-aged female Arab passengers stopped, and I gratefully hopped aboard. For a mere couple of Shekels, the driver dropped me back at the hospital. The sandals were binned.

21 September 2009

There I was in a force 6...

Good grief - I thought this was going to get *easier* when I built up the muscles a bit. A little 20 mile run out to Carnfunnock Country Park in the wind and rain - no problem. Until I decide to do the 20 miles home again. This time the wind has changed, and it's blowing directly against me. In gusts - so every time you work up a bit of speed, it saps it completely. The last 5 miles via Carrickfergus was positively painful. On the plus side, it's unlikely that we'll have anything like that in Jordan.

I thought I was Ready.

I may have thought wrong.

15 September 2009

GPS bore again...

Here's the profile from that little run.

So I'm stopped at the lights at ~0.6km, turning up Victoria Road at ~4.7km, Prince Andrew Way until 7km; up the North Road to the Upper Road by 8km, and starting to pick up the speed again along there until Upper Greenisland at 14k. Quick down Station Road, and then home.

Need to work on that average speed though.

So how's the training going?

Answer - not half bad. It's difficult getting out these evenings, as the darker nights are drawing in pretty seriously now, and I don't exactly want to end up dead in a ditch. Nice little gentle 10 miles from Greenisland to Carrick, up the Victoria Road to the Upper Road, and back to base. 50 minutes on the MTB, which is certainly not Lance Armstrong territory, but creditable enough for my nobbly tyres and the hills, I suppose. I'd like to knock at least 10min off that circuit before heading to Jordan...

10 September 2009

A little East of Jordan

[One of my very kind sponsors posted a couple of lines from this on my sponsorship page: http://justgiving.com/shanemckee - it's full of apt irony!]

A little East of Jordan,
Evangelists record,
A Gymnast and an Angel
Did wrestle long and hard --

Till morning touching mountain --
And Jacob, waxing strong,
The Angel begged permission
To Breakfast -- to return --

Not so, said cunning Jacob!
"I will not let thee go
Except thou bless me" -- Stranger!
The which acceded to --

Light swung the silver fleeces
"Peniel" Hills beyond,
And the bewildered Gymnast
Found he had worsted God!

- Emily Dickinson, 1955


Thanks, kind sponsor! :-)

08 September 2009

Death threat! Oh noes!

It's official - my beautiful wife and I have reached that point in our relationship where she has threatened to beat me to death with a roll of sticky-backed plastic. The thing is, I'll be hitting the big four-oh this year, and she's thinking that this Nazareth bike ride is my mid-life crisis. She may be right.

Anyway, the great news is that we are closing in on the target of £2500, and hope to exceed that. Thanks to everyone who has donated!

Remember what you are donating for - we're covering all the costs of this 250-mile cycle challenge from Amman to Nazareth, so your cash (plus Gift Aid - well worth it) is all going to help the development of the Nazareth Hospital, and the people of the Lower Galilee region.

In case you're feeling really flush, here are the pages of a few other folks who will be doing the Nazareth ride:

So, AFTER you have supported me, please tell your friends about the other punters, and throw a few coppers their way too :-)

07 September 2009

Heliopolitan's Nazareth Bike Ride

I have made a couple of comments on a few blogs over the past wee while, under the moniker Heliopolitan trying to stir up a bit of engagement in difficult issues, and trying to get folks (including me of course) to think outside their normal paradigms. In return, I hope that anyone who has been mortally offended by my little offerings will feel sufficiently disposed to sponsor my cycle challenge. Go on - it'll do you good!

In particular, a big Hi! to anyone visiting from:

06 September 2009

Building bridges

I was reading in last week's British Medical Journal about the Daniel Turnberg Trust Fund. Daniel was a very promising young doctor and medical researcher, with a long time interest in the affairs of the Middle East, who tragically died in a plane crash while on holiday in Malawi. His parents set up a trust fund in his memory to help researchers in the UK, Israel, Palestine and the rest of the Middle East to travel for short-term projects, in order to further their individual careers and promote bonds of friendship and collaboration.

This is the sort of thing that I regard as one of the primary goals of my bike ride challenge - this is what it's all about, and what the Nazareth Hospital is all about. I'm an Atheistic Christian, riding from a predominantly Muslim country to a predominantly Jewish country, in aid of a Christian (ostensibly theistic of course!) hospital. I'm hoping to meet people and do a little to build some bridges, and perhaps continue a bit of the work that Nazareth has actually been doing on *me* since I went there in 1993. We all have our paths to tread, I suppose, and as we move along, we come into contact with many different people. Contingency (you can call it "fate" if you want, but you'll lose some meaning) plays a major role in how events work out.

You plant a seed, and hope something will grow. I listened to a really good lecture at Warwick from one of the researchers supported by a Daniel Turnberg grant, and I hope this trust fund will continue to help scientists move between our countries and share their work. Maybe it has been overlooked, but scientific co-operation is one thing that can unite all races and creeds.

Viva la Scientia!

05 September 2009

Learning all the time

So the night before last it's dark by the time the kiddies are in bed, the traffic is busy, and I haven't trained in nearly a week. So I decide to go for a run, and do a little 3 mile jaunt. With a head-cold starting.

Not a good move.

Two days later, cold is in full swing, and legs are killing me. I have come to two important conclusions:
1. Train when you're well, not when you have incipient Man Flu.
2. Running fit is not the same as cycling fit.

On the other hand, I'm starting to feel more ready for this, and I'll be putting up a few more retro-blog posts over the next few days. Remember the sponsorship site: http://justgiving.com/shanemckee - thanks!

01 September 2009

Training takes a dive...

In Warwick for the Birtish Human Genetics Conference - the old legs are getting a bit of a rest, but are itching to get back on the bike, after a good recovery. The conference is very good this year - some excellent material,a nd I'm already getting inspired. Plus there is the possibility of getting some of the commercial sponsors to support the bike ride. Come ON, Illumina - you know it makes sense :-)

24 August 2009


Oooh, my legs hurt. Remember, I'm new to this biking thing, and I have not got my legs in shape. AND it's only just over 2 months before I'll be cycling for real - 250 miles of Jordanian & Israeli roads to contend with, to raise money for the Nazareth Hospital (SPONSOR ME PLEEEZE!).

So, off I trot up the road to Islandmagee, a much neglected, yet exceptionally picturesque little peninsula, between Carrickfergus and Larne (the tip of it is just across from Larne, and it is part of Larne borough). One lovely little spot is the beach at Portmuck, down a VERY steep incline.

25% indeed. Coming back up, I confess I hopped off the bike and pushed it on foot for a hundred yards or so. Then off to Brown's Bay, round to Ballylumford (big power station), Mill Bay, Whitehead and home. 37 miles in 4 hours (3h25 on the move). Here's the elevation plot:

Portmuck is the bit at about 27km, at the bottom of that rather sharp V.

My legs haven't forgiven me yet - I haven't told them about what's waiting for them in November.

23 August 2009

Fun with bikey GPS

Yeah, I know I'm coming to this a bit late, but a friend has lent me (with an option to keep, so he'll never see it again) a Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, which has the rather nice functions of being able to download free maps from t'Interwebs AND being able to plot your ramblings on GPS, using a fantastic little piece of free software called MaemoMapper. I'm hoping to take it on my Nazareth Bike Ride in November, and will save my tracks daily, for upload to this blog for your perusal and possibly even enjoyment. Hope springs eternal.

Anyway, yesterday I had my first Big Ride planned - you need to remember that I am a complete newbie at this cycling malarkey, and 8 miles was pushing it a bit, as recently as, well, the day before yesterday. So, armed with my (it is now!) trusty N810, I set off on what was to be a 30 mile round trip from Greenisland to Dunadry. This was a mammoth undertaking for such a greenhorn, but it's darn all compared to what you Cycling Experts clock up before breakfast, and a far cry from what I'll need to be doing 5 days on the trot in November. Nevertheless, I recorded my track, then uploaded it to the marvellous GPSVISUALIZER.COM website for analysis.

So you can see the map (start and finish points removed), AND, here's an idea of my speed and elevation over the trip.

I'm a bit quicker on the downhill sections (for those of you who don't know, there's this thing called "gravity"), but I *really* need to work on the speed up the hills.

As it turned out, I was quicker than expected coming home, as my wife had managed to lock herself out of the house, and I had to make it home pronto to let her and the kids back in. Next time, when I'm up to 60 miles, we can't let a fiasco like *that* happen again.

21 August 2009

Neglecting el bloggo

Well, you know how it is. Life is busy enough without blogging every five seconds of it. However, the training is going ahead, and pretty much to plan. A very short ride tonight - only 9 miles - but enough short hill sections to stress the old legs a bit, and also to confirm that they really are getting better - I can cover far more distance in a lot less time than before, and keep the bike in much higher gear on the uphill bits. Things are looking good!

Then there is another issue - entirely unrelated. What do you do if you have wi-fi cold spots all over your house? The answer is to use that old wi-fi router that you got with your last supplier and is now gathering dust in the attic... get it out, and turn it into a second wireless access point! Here's the way to do it:

18 August 2009

Beside the seaside

Lovely little training ride tonight along Belfast Lough, from Greenisland, through Whiteabbey to Hazelbank, and along the lough to the Dargan Landfill site, which is even now being converted into Belfast's new leisure thingy, the "Giant's Park". I really have no idea why there is a Giant associated with it - perhaps they are working on a link with the legendary (or, rather, mythical) Finn Mac Cool.

The prospect of a dump being turned into a park for the frolics and entertainment of the good people of North Belfast and beyond doesn't sound much, but it's actually a pretty good site - large, open - lots of potential. And it's a nice quick cycle from home. So 20km took about an hour overall, pretty much on the flat, and not at all pushing it, and the legs are sticking up to the whole thing fairly well, despite it being very early days for the training.

The Nazareth ride is already starting to look a little less daunting (remember to sponsor me!), although there'll be a lot of uphill sections, which will test the mettle.

16 August 2009

Pull your socks up, McKee!

[I'm retroblogging my medical elective in Nazareth EMMS Hospital, Israel, in 1993. In November 2009 I am joining the Nazareth Bike Ride from Amman in Jordan to Nazareth, to raise much-needed funds for the hospital. Please sponsor me, and follow my training progress on Twitter!]

I was very shy and retiring (and lazy?) then, and tried to glean what I could from the patient notes. Although the official record-keeping of the hospital was in English, a lot of the A&E records (and much of the inter-doctor discussion) were in Hebrew or Arabic - and all the patients spoke Arabic. I had very little Arabic apart from "nafas!" ("breathe!" - I hope), which was of limited value, since most patients knew to do this anyway, and when they stopped, that was a problem that was unlikely to be resolved by simple commands, in whatever language.

Looking back on it, I'm acutely aware (and embarrassed) of how wet behind the ears I was, and I suspect I was perhaps less than effective or enthusiastic about the medical aspects of my visit. But then that could just be the lapse of time. Maybe everyone feels this about their elective.

13 August 2009

Fun in Emergency: Retroblogging Nazareth 1993

[I'm retroblogging my medical elective in Nazareth EMMS Hospital, Israel, in 1993. In November 2009 I am joining the Nazareth Bike Ride from Amman in Jordan to Nazareth, to raise much-needed funds for the hospital. Please sponsor me, and follow my training progress on Twitter!]

The purpose of my time in Nazareth (nominally at least) was to acquire medical training, prior to my final year at medical school. Is it odd, therefore, that the medical exposure is the aspect I remember *least*? I started off in the ER under the supervision of Dr Steph Nash. I don't know where he ended up, but he and the family finished their "tour of duty" about half-way through my time. Nice chap - I think the only photo I have of him was when he was getting soaked as part of his farewell party.

[Photo temporarily unavailable]

The ER could be pretty chaotic - at one stage we had a breadknife-wielding granny remonstrating loudly about something or other, as various relatives flailed around in degrees of voluble distress. Granny had stabbed someone (minor) in one of those family feuds that flare up from time to time. Fortunately the situation was resolved without further bloodshed (in the ER at least), and her relative sustained only minor injuries. Lesson – never drop your guard!

11 August 2009

That's my wee brother, that is!

The Rich Kid, Cash, from Tango & Cash, the fastest biking duo in Ireland - now the fastest biking *trio* in Ireland, following the very sensible addition of Warrior Princess. Check out the reports of their triumph in the Belfast Rat Race - a close-run thing, but it's not the taking part that matters - it is the WINNING.

Retroblogging Nazareth 1993

As part of my effort to raise some cash for the Nazareth Hospital, I am planning to retroblog my 1993 elective. I spent 6 weeks in Nazareth in 1993 and another 2 weeks looking around the rest of Israel, so I hope this plan gets you hopping over to my sponsorshop page, and also following my training (and ultimately the cycle ride itself) on Twitter.
This is the unavoidable camel shot, taken at the Jaffa Gate in Old Jerusalem, shortly before I dismounted the beast and headed in rapid pursuit through the dimly-lit warrens of the Old City in pursuit of the wee lad who took the photo and subsequently tried to make off with my camera.

Big head in front of Whitehead

Great training run tonight - short hop from Greenisland (home) along the coast via Carrick to just above Whitehead, taking in a few little side-roads on the way. Just an hour & 20, but very pleasant. Here is my noggin blocking the view.

It does actually look much prettier without that ridiculous foreground distraction. Try this instead.

Of course, you don't get the perspective from a poxy mobile phone camera - you need to visit the Antrim coast for yourself - be prepared to be blown away.

08 August 2009

Ride into Belfast

The Tall Ships are in town! Well, only a couple so far, but more are set to arrive over the next few days. I took a spin on the bike down to the Albert Quay to have a look, but they are repelling all boarders until the festival kicks off on 13-14 August. Here's the link: http://www.gotobelfast.com/tall_ships_2009.aspx

[Sorry - didn't get any photos, but the old legs got a little bit of a workout in preparation for my own challenge - pleeeeeze sponsor me!!]

Conundrum sorted. Can we move on?

Can a Scientist be a Theistic Christian?
Are Science and Theistic Christianity compatible?
There ya go. Now, on to other matters!

Latest training ride

Woodburn forest, Carrickfergus. The reserviors provide drinking water for the Carrickfergus area, and they've very accessible by bike - the Woodburn Road is a slightly steep hill, though, for rank beginners like me.

07 August 2009

Israel photos from 1993

While I'm on the topic, here is a link to my Photobox.co.uk album of my photos from my elective in Nazareth, and subsequent travels in Israel.

06 August 2009

Cycling for Nazareth

Back in 1993 (as anyone who knows me already knows - I hardly ever shut up about it) I did my medical student elective in Nazareth Hospital (that's Israel, not Pennsylvania). Each year for the last 18 years, there has been a sponsored bike ride in aid of the hospital, and this year I have decided to come along too. It should be a great experience; I'll be paying my own way, but I would like as many people as possible to sponsor me, and spread the word. The sponsorship website is: http://justgiving.com/shanemckee - I hope you'll visit and help out this really worthy cause.

More info later!

01 June 2009

You can never start 'em too young

Small child tackles a vintage Massey-Ferguson at the Mullahead Ploughing Match. Pretty soon he'll be openin' 'er up and slappin' th'oul buckrake til 'er an' lettin' 'er rip!

Priceless Egyptological artefact lost forever!

Alas, now that the warm weather has arrived, this fine statue of the Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II is no more; it has been reduced to a mere puddle; in fact, even that is now gone. For a very brief few nights in December 2000 (yes, it was that long ago), this fine colossus graced my back garden.

And now all I have are memories...